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Series Preview #39, vs. Kansas City Royals

After taking yet another shot to the gut (er, hand) in losing Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona sees yet another playoff contender stroll into Chase Field in the Kansas City Royals.

Christian Petersen

What's New?

Arizona's last series against the Pirates was certainly an eventful and painful one, yet still saw them split, winning two of the four games. The opener saw a couple of rookies take flight, with Andy Marte hitting his first home run since 2010 and Nick Ahmed launching his first major league big fly in the 7-4 win. After going out to a 4-1 lead, the Diamondbacks saw their bullpen completely collapse, giving up eight runs in the last two innings of a 9-4 loss. The loss also set up the drama for the next night, as Ernesto Frieri's 93-mph fastball hit Paul Goldschmidt in the left hand, breaking it and possibly knocking him out for the season. The next night was nearly a mirror image of the previous one, with Arizona blowing the lead by giving up seven runs in the final two innings in a 8-3 loss. It also led to the retaliaton by the Diamondbacks, as Randall Delgado would drill Pirates star Andrew McCutchen square in the back with a 95-mph fastball. Delgado was immediately ejected from the game. The finale saw even more controversy, as in the tenth inning with runners on the corners and one out, a routine double play ball was hit. The Pirates got the second out, but the throw to first deflected off the forearm of Ahmed, allowing the winning run to score in the 3-2 win. They are 49-63 overall this season, 14 games behind the Dodgers for first place in the NL West. They are 2.5 games behind San Diego for third place.

With the injury to star Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona's offensive production is expected to make a major hit. Not that they were any good even with him. They currently rank 21st in wRC+ (91) and in offensive WAR (10.6), while batting .255/.308/.391 with a .308 wOBA. They actually have decent pop when they do get hits, posting the 14th-ranked ISO in the majors (.137). Now even more of the burden falls on the pitching staff, which ranks 25th with a 4.25 ERA and 21st with a 3.92 FIP. They struggle (as they have all year) when it comes to pitching to contact, surrendering the second-highest BABIP (.311) and fourth-highest home run rate in the majors (1.04 HR/9).

Kansas City has found its success this year in spite of their offense, posting the 24th-ranked wRC+ (90) and 14th-ranked offensive WAR (14.3) in baseball, while batting .262/.311/.374 with a .303 wOBA. They're a tough bunch to punch out, as they strike out at the lowest rate in the majors (15.9%), but also struggle to draw walks in having the lowest walk rate in the majors (6.2%). Kansas City has a strong pitching staff, posting the 11th-ranked team ERA (3.66) in the majors, as well as the 22nd-ranked FIP (3.93). They struggle to strike batters out as well, with just the 23rd-ranked strikeout rate in the majors (7.28 K/9).

The Royals are looking to finish off their six-game road trip strong after taking two out of three games from the Oakland Athletics, as they already boast a road record of 30-26 this season. The Royals have won seven out of their last ten games overall, and currently are 57-53 overall, five games behind Detroit for first place in the AL Central. They are 1.5 games behind Toronto for the second AL wild-card spot.

On The Mend

On Saturday, the Diamondbacks placed star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left hand. Goldschmidt is expected to miss the rest of the season.

The Royals placed first baseman Eric Hosmer on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday, and is expected to miss around six weeks with a stress fracture in his right hand.

Roster Moves

On August 1st, the Diamondbacks signed left hander Clayton Richard to a minor league contract.

Arizona placed first baseman Paul Goldschmidt on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a fractured left hand, and recalled outfielder Alfredo Marte from Triple-A Reno.

Kansas City activated left hander Jason Vargas from the 15-day disabled list on Saturday.

The "Unwritten" Rules of Baseball

Baseball is a game filled with time-honored traditions. Gamesmanship. Sportsmanship (to an extent). But what happened last weekend at Chase Field was simply unacceptable.

Having your star player beaned (as Goldschmidt was) always does raise a certain level of alarm for a ball club, particularly when the star player is hurt. Whether it was intentional or not is up to the manager (while I feel this situation was unintentional) and the ball club. If there is to be a "payback", it should be done as quickly as possible. As in the next half inning. Not while in the midst of a ball game a day later.

It is unknown if the direction of this case (as well as the Ryan Braun situation earlier this year) came from manager Kirk Gibson, or if it was a case of young pitchers Evan Marshall and Randall Delgado being loose cannons, but regardless is an issue that must be addressed by the organization to avoid the Diamondbacks' reputation becoming that of foul play. The injury to Goldschmidt was unfortunate, but the resulting beaning and injury for Andrew McCutchen was uncalled for and easily avoidable.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1, Tuesday 6:40 PT: LHP Danny Duffy (5-10, 2.42 ERA, 4.00 FIP) vs. LHP Wade Miley (7-7, 4.14 ERA, 3.96 FIP)

Duffy has pitched well but struggled with bad luck all season,and was stuck with the no decision in his last start after giving up a run on four hits over 5.2 innings against the Twins. He's given up two runs or fewer in eight of his last nine starts. Miley has been dominant of late, going 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his last six starts. He threw 6.2 shutout innings against the Reds in his last start, giving seven hits.

Game 2, Wednesday 6:40 PT: RHP Yordano Ventura (8-8, 3.50 ERA, 3.87 FIP) vs. RHP Josh Collmenter (8-5, 4.07 ERA, 4.18 FIP)

Ventura has been impressive as a rookie, and gave up two runs (one earned) while striking out seven to pick up his eighth win of the season in his last start. Ventura is 4-2 with a 3.63 ERA on the road this season. Collmenter was on a bit of a roll before a couple rocky starts derailed him. He showed marginal improvement in his last start, giving up three runs in 5.1 innings against the Pirates. He is 6-2 with a 3.10 ERA at home this season.

Game 3, Thursday 6:40 PT: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (7-9, 4.50 ERA, 4.74 FIP) vs. LHP Vidal Nuno (2-7, 4.78 ERA, 4.91 FIP)

Guthrie is coming off of perhaps his best start of the season, giving up just three hits through six shutout innings against one of the league's best offenses in the A's. He is 3-4 with a 4.28 ERA in 11 road starts this season, and is coming off a July that saw him go 1-3 with a 10.07 ERA. Nuno picked up his third quality start in a D-Backs uniform in his last start, giving up just a run on three hits over six innings against the Pirates. He has held teams to four earned runs or less in each of his starts as a Diamondback.

Series Pick'em

I think that Arizona takes just one of three games from Kansas City. Miley has pitched well of late, and could very well end up in a pitcher's duel with Danny Duffy that could give us a decent chance to win. I expect Collmenter to get back on track and put together a decent start to match Ventura, leaving it up to the offense to try to get the win. Guthrie has always been a decent starter, and is simply a better pitcher than Nuno (although Nuno has improved of late).